From Infusion Magazine – March/April 2019
What we are experiencing in our industry is the transformative power of metrics, data, and technology. Failing to apply sales analytics to the growth of your business will leave you in the dust. There is just no other way to say it. So, let’s explore sales-specific metrics, data, and technology and how they translate into actionable items that produce growth.
This article will build on concepts introduced in previous issues of INFUSION (See The Business Optimization: Process From Here to There, What’s in Your Business Plan in March/April 2018 and Home Infusion Sales: The New Normal from May/June 2018). In these articles, we talked about taking your business from HERE (where we are today) to THERE (where we need to be). Specifically, in the Business Optimization article, we highlighted the sales process and the importance of establishing simplified metrics.
In the New Normal article, we explored the “why” of sales calls, the elevator speech, and the sales close. This time, we’ll take a deeper dive into infusion sales, providing insight into specific metrics and how they can be boosted through the application of data and use of a Customer Relations Management (CRM) tool. I like to think of metrics, data, and CRM as a three-legged stool that support sales (see Exhibit 1).
Metrics for Infusion Sales
Let’s begin by defining what metrics for infusion sales must include. Metrics provide the measurement and cadence the rhythm and structure to report and review. Cadence is a business buzzword that refers to the frequency or sequence with which you meet with the sales team and individuals on the team. It’s how to monitor progress. A predefined cadence is a critical element to successful sales leadership.
This terminology was popularized in the 1990s after IBM published a paper about sales called, “Chaos to Cadence,” asserting that a well-monitored sales process creates the organization-wide visibility needed to align objectives and achieve growth.
To better understand why these metrics are so important, let’s journey to the end of our business process. The last step in every provider’s business process is revenue cycle. This is where we get paid for the products and services we provided to the patients under our care. While the revenue cycle appears to be wholly separate from the clinical aspects of providing patient care, it’s a core business function that’s necessary to the health of the business. Without the revenue cycle, the doors can’t remain open, however without sales you need not worry about the revenue cycle.
Sales is the beginning point of the infusion business—long before intake and clinical care—yet, it is often the least defined and measured area of the business. When you consider the home infusion sales process, there are a few common factors. Based on that, the essential metrics any provider should monitor must include:
- Number of sales calls per day
- Number of key accounts and prospects
- Monthly sales goals by product with specific sales revenue target
The above metrics will carry you far—especially if you are not currently measuring anything. Other metrics that should be given serious consideration include:
- Prospect win rate
- Referral source lost
- Sales pipeline coverage (SPC)
- Customer/new referral source acquisition cost (CAC)
- Customer/referral source lifetime value (CLV)
- Sales cost ratio
- Monthly new prospects
The cadence implemented with these metrics is found through coaching and regularly-scheduled sales meetings. Based on my experience, I recommend that sales professionals must be coached at least two times per month and team sales meetings must be executed monthly to review the success of the previous month’s sales.
Establishing metrics and cadence for infusion sales will produce a high level of accountability. These engagements will offer relevant and time-sensitive information that provides ongoing clarity and focus on sales.
The Data of Infusion Sales
Capturing and analyzing data on infusion sales is relatively new to our industry, but like so many other aspects of our lives, has gained momentum over the past few years. As the home infusion market grows and becomes more competitive, and data crunching becomes easier, providers are using increasingly sophisticated tools to emphasize and boost productivity. Data has completely changed the way we approach and manage sales—we are fortunate that this second leg of the stool has evolved so quickly in such a short period of time.
For decades we assumed that data related to many of the vertical markets within the medical sales arena was unavailable. For example, pharmaceutical sales territories used to be divided by zip codes because industry-generated reports showed the filling pharmacy by zip code. As you can imagine, the richness and value of data increases as information such as prescriber name, prescriber specialty, frequency of prescribing, and even patient compliance, in some cases, is more readily available.
Let’s look at some real-life numbers and review what data has done for just one sales representative and his focus on referral acquisition.
- A company purchased data for its sales team in its specific territory. The data showed 305 referral sources for a specific HCPCS code.
- Further analysis revealed that these referral sources were sending between 1 and 13 referrals per month to multiple providers.
- These monthly referrals were over an 18-month period of time.
- To help lower the total number of potential referral sources in this territory, the sales rep removed the referral sources that only made a few (1 or 2) referrals over the past 18 months. He also added back into the count 20 referrals sources that were believed to have potential.
- That brought the new number of referral sources for this territory to 158, averaging between 3 and 13 referrals per month each. This was the portion of the data that the representative determined to be the most fertile and would therefore be his focus.
With the use of data the sales professional was now able to focus his efforts and drive sales with increased purpose. This sales professional watched his referrals grow over the next several months and continues to thrive in this new rich territory.
When you apply data analysis, it quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it appears on the surface. Now let’s pose some clarifying questions that will illustrate this. From the example above, how would you reply to the following questions?
- Is it easier to manage 158 or 305 referral sources?
- Which territory of referral sources would hear your message more frequently, the territory with 305 or one with 158 referral sources?
- The data showed that 48% of the referral sources on this list did ZERO referrals for the past 18 months. Would these have been productive sales calls to add to your monthly schedule or a waste of your time and talent?
How did you reply?
It would be easier to call on 158 than to be scattered across 305 accounts. If my territory consisted of 158 referrals sources and not 305, the smaller territory would hear my message more frequently because I would have a tighter call cycle and would be at their offices more often. To continue to call on referral sources that produced ZERO referrals in the past 18 months would not have been fruitful and definitely not benefited my time or talent.
The Influence of a CRM for Infusion Sales
The third leg of the stool is an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. There are several off-the-shelf CRM products that can be used with home infusion software. With the addition of a CRM, the sales professional, manager, owner, and other stakeholders will have a visual that provides intelligence through a variety of cross tabulations— sales metrics can be viewed by category and referral source.
The CRM combines the strategy of sales process with technology that goes well beyond accountability. Often this technology is seen as nothing more than an accountability tool, but that is a narrow interpretation of its abilities. A CRM shows the entire customer lifecycle for improved messaging, customer retention, and ultimately to drive sales growth. In this way, it provides accurate interaction data, sales workflow, metrics of the sales call cycle, and also lead and prospect management.
To activate sales metrics and data without a CRM is an exercise in futility. Without a CRM, the data and metrics are not actionable—it’s like having a mission without a strategy or defined goals.
All infusion sales teams look for new tools and ways to grow. Embracing the triad of identifying your sales metrics, reviewing the data that can point you in the direction of greater opportunities, and implementing a CRM can create information feedback loop and appropriate cadence for positive growth.
Ty Bello, RCC, is the President and Founder of Team@Work, LLC. He is an author, communicator, registered coach, and one of NHIA’s top-rated Annual Conference Speakers. His team has more than 50 years of combined experience in assessing, developing, and coaching sole proprietorships, sales teams, C-suite executives, individuals, and teams in a variety of industry settings. Contact Ty at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit teachatworkcoaching.com for more information.